Healey Willan's nearly forgotten chamber music gets fine outing thanks to Chamber Players of Canada
CBC Radio 2 has been piling on the offerings in its Concerts on Demand site.
The biggest of the recent treats is Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir's recent performance of the Mass in B Minor by J.S. Bach. The performance was one of the finest and most moving I have ever heard. (And I still marvel at the celestial justice that this was the final concert Canadian music instsitution Ken Winters got to review before he died.)
Find a quiet moment sometime soon, and give it a listen here.
Another treat among the archive on concerts is a programme devoted to the chamber music of Healey Willan (1880-1968) given by the Chamber Players of Canada at Dominion-Chalmers United Church in Ottawa, in April.
The whole recital is a study in small-is-beautiful. The style of writing is very similar to his choral compositions and organ preludes, relying a carefully crafted thematic development and counterpoint. There are no big surprises -- other than my suprise that we don't hear these pieces more often, mixed in with the European chamber music canon.
There's a sweet Melody for Cello and Piano that has such a long melodic line that it left me mentally gasping for breath. The most substantial piece of the concert is a three-movement Piano Trio in B Minor. The drama of the key really comes to life in the Finale. I think the trio understates its performance a bit, but, otherwise, it's a satisfying listen.
Check it out here.